Paying for book reviews is becoming quite common: ForeWord, ($295), Kirkus, (standard service $425, express service $575), and Publishers Weekly provide book reviews-for-hire.
Does it work? It worked for John Locke. He paid for more than 300 book reviews. His book sold more than a million copies.
And it worked for Luz Thompson. Although it should be noted that Luz absolutely did not pay for her review. So the real question is this: do book reviews work?
Numbers Don’t Lie
Empirical evidence tells the tale. Luz Thompson, who writes sci-fi, admits that she is lousy at marketing and promotion. She has two “industrial strength” sci-fi books out on Kindle: Beyond the Standard Model and another entitled Black. Both books were stagnating on Amazon.
Then something happened: Anthony Tinsman wrote a review of Beyond the Standard Model. The review was published on BlogCritics.org and picked up by about a dozen other outlets. Basically, the other sites posted an excerpt from the review, along with a link back to BlogCritics.org.
Overnight, Beyond the Standard Model began to sell. It went from an Amazon ranking of below 1,000,000 to 230,000. It’s not a bestseller, but it is now selling! It made the top 1000 in Sci-Fi, where before it had been ranked 21,811.
Sales By Association
Not only that, but Black began to sell too: sales by association. Black also jumped into the top 1000 Sci-Fi books. And added bonus: Luz’s book on marketing – Mega-Marketing for BIG Companies – also began to sell. Frankly, Mega-Marketing had not sold a single copy until Anthony Tinsman’s review appeared. Then, simply by association, it started to sell.
All this was the result of one book review published on a great site (BlogCritics.org). If Luz gets some more reviews, who knows? She might sell a million copies, too!
Anthony Tinsman is a scintillating book reviewer. After twisting his arm, I convinced him that he should charge money for his reviews. I did point out that the reviews had to be honest evaluations. There could be no guarantee of a positive review. If a book was good, he should say so. If it sucked, he should say so in polite terms. In other words, no author bashing; there’s no reason to humiliate anyone.
The answer to the question is YES, book reviews do work, especially if they are well-written and published on a reputable site like BlogCritics.org, TheGr1nd.com or andmagazine.com.
Paying For Reviews
Paying for book reviews is a controversial subject. The naysayers maintain that paying for reviews is tantamount to marrying for money. It’s not honorable. On the other hand, advocates assert that paying for a book review is no different than paying for any other service, like having your car detailed or your dog groomed.
Publishing is changing. In 2015, publishing pundits predict that 1,000,000 books will be independently published. These indie-publishers need reviews to gain attention. If they are willing to pay for a review, who cares? The only thing I care about is this: is the review honest? If it’s not honest, readers will soon realize that the reviewer is nothing more than a literary slut. The reviewer will be out of business.
In the past, I’ve received offers to write reviews for pay. I’ve always turned them down. I’m not a purist and I make no vaunted claims to literary piety. It’s simply this, it’s not worth the time and effort. It takes too long to read the book and then write the review. Moreover, let’s be frank, most self-published books are pretty bad. Poor editing, bad spelling and atrocious grammar and syntax provide little motivation, even for money. I’m not into self-flagellation.
A Few Tidbits About Anthony
Anthony Tinsman is an interesting guy. He is a PEN award winning author, designer of ‘Take A Load Off,’ a prisoner reentry program used in the Bureau of Prisons, and creator of Hungry Robot, a children’s book. He is an advisory board member with the International Certification Board of Recovery Professionals (ICBRP).
Anthony, whose friends call him “Tinny,” is currently in a federal prison in Arkansas. He has served ten years of a 35-year mandatory minimum sentence for armed bank robbery. He contributes to Blog Critics, Gr1nd, The Savage Kick, Spotlight on Recovery, Slammer Books, Prison Law Blog, Prisology’s Prison Speak, Incarcerated Voices and others. He is currently collaborating on a book with John Lee Brook. The book, tentatively entitled Killing God’s Enemies, will be published by Trine Day Publishers.
If you’d like Anthony to review your book, contact me. I’ll set it up. He’s got nothing but time on his hands.
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